Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ginga e Kickoff - 18

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There were some very important firsts in this episode of Ginga, but all the good stuff that’s been a constant since day one didn’t take the week off.

I’ll admit the payoff of this episode wasn't a huge surprise, given the title of the ep – “First Goal”.  But that doesn't lessen the impact any, because of the way the buildup was handled in the writing – not just in this episode, but over the course of the entire series.  I can see why the mangaka put the backstory on Shou’s father right before this episode, because it added another layer of meaning to what was happening on the field.  As usual, the show got it just right – not too much overplayed emotion, letting the drama of the moment work for itself.

Truth be told there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in the outcome of the Predators first match of the city tournament – it was a mismatch from the opening whistle.  But it was still a big game for the non-triplet members of the squad, with some real milestones achieved.  The first “first” of the game was Reika’s first actual touch during a match – I think the attacker was so shocked she actually moved her feet that surprise worked to Reika-chan’s advantage.  We also saw the first in-game exhibition of “Little Tri” (It’s “Reverse Three”, dammit!”) which Shou adroitly unveiled when the haggard opposing squad was man-marking the Furuyas.  This led to the first goal 3U scored on their own, the honors falling to little Uchimura.

That was all building towards the titular “first goal” of course – but the magic was in the way Shou’s entry into the tally sheet happened.  Yes, the game was out of hand – but Shou had been his usual dutiful self, playing the thankless center back role while others took the glory and enjoyed their “hunt”, expertly directing the strategy of the Predators on the field.  I think it’s wholly in character that it was Ouzou – I’ve said before that he’s my favorite of the triplets, and he’s certainly the least selfish and most self-aware – who took it upon himself to try and get Shou a goal.  It was via a corner kick – generally, set pieces being the best chance for a center-back to notch a rare goal – and Ouzou directed Ryuji to cover while Shou took an attacking line at the far post.  It was a perfect corner by Ouzou, and Shou recalled all his lessons with Masaru-san-chan – but it (fittingly) required an extra effort, as his initial header was saved.  Seizing the moment Shou executed a perfect diving header, scraping his chin in the process, and finally got his name on the scoresheet.

A meaningless goal in extra time of a one-side game, certainly – but quite meaningful in the context of the series.  It says a lot about Ouzou that he did what he did, and even more, it was clear that Shou was long overdue to be rewarded for all the tireless effort he put in both on and off the field to make the Predators the team they’ve become.   To quote Harada-sensei, “Nobody can keep on going forever without some measure of reward”, and for a footballer (especially a central defender) there’s no reward like a goal.  Taichi may still be waiting for his, but at least Shou got to bask in the glory for a moment or two before the serious work begins.

The focus now shifts to Takuma Aoto-Gonzalez - with apologies to Aizawa Kakeru - a real baby-faced assassin, and leader of the Heavens, the next opponent for Predators.  Kouta, fabulously juvenile as ever (he refuses to shake the hand of the man-child Kageura, leader of the likely finals opponent and defending national champ, Amarillo) continues to be obsessed with revenge against Aoto for outshining him.  Aoto, for his part, seems to quite enjoy the consternation he causes for Kouta, and he scores all six (!) of his team’s goals in their match with Kiyose Kickers.  We know of course that Aoto will eventually join Shou’s soccer harem, so it’ll be doubly interesting to see how he fares going head-to-head against his future teammates.  And for that matter, why was Erika-chan red-faced in the preview – is she blushing because she’s crushing on the Heavens’ blonde pocket rocket?

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12 comments:

  1. "I can see why the mangaka put the backstory on Shou’s father right before this episode" - I was under the impression this was an original story?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being as no one is translating the manga afaik, I don't know for sure.

      Delete
    2. This is not original. The story is based on Kawabata Hiroto's novel Ginga no World Cup from 2006.

      Delete
  2. Erika also blushed in the first episode of the series, when she saw Aoto's blue eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice review, keep it up!
    Now we'll just have to wait weeks for the next episode...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Highlights of this oh-so-execellent-as-usual review: Chihayafuru quotes and 'soccer harem' (this made me lol. That's some hunting achievement, oh young predator).
    I was happily cheering during the whole game, especially for Reika and of course Shou. My boy :,).
    I'm pretty curious to see Aoto's colours next time. And will our sayan triplet manage not to focus too much on him during the next match? Dundundundunnnn.

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  5. There's one thing that Ginga has going for it that is a must for any good sports series I think, and that's the fact that I'm grinning like a maniac barely containing the urge to shout and cheer at the top of my lungs. It's that energy that you'd get from a real sports game and a lot of sports manga/anime/series fall a bit short. They're enjoyable, but I'm just as likely to sit there watching it with my head between my hands in a sort of daze.

    Ginga is one of those things where I catch myself smiling so hard my muscles ache a bit without noticing until I'd been in that pose for a good 10 minutes and the ache is REALLY setting in XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's true - a really good sports anime has to have that rousing quality that makes you care about what's happening on the pitch. And Ginga definitely has it.

      I'm pleased the show seems to be doing really well in Japan. Too bad it isn't making more of an impact outside.

      Delete
  6. Where can I find this subbed?

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  7. First, "soccer harem" XDDD absolutely~
    Next, thanks for the review! I continue to be really impressed at Hanashima's coaching sense; his "hunt" made it super-easy for the Preds to focus on their techniques. The triplets' dad also made my day by not wanting Coachie to fix them. As for Erika-chan's little crush, it's evident and adorable, as far as I'm concerned; can't wait for the next ep!
    -Riley

    ReplyDelete